Somerset Hills in New Jersey advances bunker project

  • Somerset
    Capillary Bunkers

    Somerset Hills Country Club in New Jersey is in progress with a bunker project

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville, New Jersey, is nearing completion of a bunker project on its golf course, which was originally designed AW Tillinghast in 1918. 

“I started here in 2009 and the bunkers here were in bad shape then,” said course superintendent Ryan Tuxhorn. “We were looking at doing a bunker project then, and when we had a meeting with our architect, Brian Slawnik of Renaissance Golf Design, we discussed it and he told us that bunkers should be a finishing touch and it was more important to get mowing lines and playing surfaces right.”

Several years later, having prioritised those aspects of the layout, the topic of bunkers came up again.

“Three years ago, we installed a few Capillary Bunkers as a test, and in August 2019, we were more aggressive, opening up 16 smaller bunkers in advance of a visit by Brian, to check that we could install the liner in-house and complete the bunkers in timely fashion while still maintaining a golf course,” said Tuxhorn. “And we found it was a comfortable process.”

With Slawnik’s help, Tuxhorn divided his bunkers into three categories, from those that only needed sub-grade work, including new drainage and a liner, to those that would be completely rebuilt.

“By the end of next year, we should be 95 per cent done,” said Tuxhorn. “At the moment we only have one green’s worth of bunkers to do and we have done some of the fairway bunkers too. The work is coming out great and the members are really happy with it.

“It’s been a great project for us and I’m very proud of the results.”